Ronny Tong emphasises strict prosecutorial standards under Hong Kong’s new security law

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Chow Hang-tung (left) and Ronny Tong (right).

30th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s recent application of its domestic national security law has sparked a significant legal debate after activist Chow Hang-tung and six others were detained under accusations of seditious activities linked to commemorations of the Tiananmen Square events. Chow, a prominent figure and former leader of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance, is currently held at Tai Lam Centre for Women on separate charges.

These arrests mark the initial enforcement of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, accentuated by Security Chief Chris Tang ‘s focus on seditious content alleged to have been posted on the “ChowHangTungClub” Facebook group since April. The content reportedly stirred animosity towards both central and local authorities, coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Albert Chen, a legal scholar from the University of Hong Kong, highlighted the adjustments in the legal framework, noting the transformation of sedition laws from colonial times to now target actions undermining the state’s fundamental system. This shift necessitates that residents self-assess the potential seditious nature of their speech or publications under the new law, potentially chilling free expression.

Meanwhile, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a barrister and member of the Executive Council, stated that any decision to charge must include a written justification from the justice secretary, assuring that the evidence meets necessary legal standards of effect and intent.